Wednesday, June 19, 2024

€2.8 million from European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support 421 dismissed workers in Belgium

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Today, the Commission proposed support for 421 workers dismissed in Belgium by the retail chain Makro Cash & Carry with €2.8 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Displaced Workers (EGF). The funding will help these workers find new jobs through tailored guidance, training, and help for those looking to start their own business.









In July 2023, Belgium applied for EGF funding to help workers living in the Walloon region who were laid off by Makro Cash & Carry after the company declared bankruptcy.


The EGF support package includes advisory services, job search assistance, and skills training in vocational, digital or language skills. In addition, the dismissed workers can receive guidance on starting their own business and benefit from start-up grants of up to €15,000.


Additional allowances are made available for dismissed workers participating in job-search, training and education activities, as well as support for self-employed people in the initial months of launching their business.


The total estimated cost of these measures is €3.2 million, with 85% (€2.8 million) covered by the EGF and the remaining 15% (€499,000) financed by the Walloon region. Support for eligible workers started shortly after the dismissals.


The Commission’s proposal requires approval from the European Parliament and the Council.


Background


Makro Cash & Carry Belgium NV is a retail chain. In recent years, the chain faced financial losses and sales dropped further during the pandemic. The company was declared bankrupt in January 2023, resulting in 1,431 jobs lost in Belgium.


Belgium requested EU EGF co-financing to supplement regional support for laid-off workers in Wallonia (notably Hainaut and Liège), at the request of the Walloon region.


Unemployment in Wallonia (8.8%) is higher than in Flanders (3.1%), according to Statbel.


In addition, many of the redundancies at Makro concern lower skilled workers and people aged 50 years and older, who tend to have more difficulties to find work in the Walloon labour market. These workers will particularly benefit from the additional and targeted support to find new jobs under the proposed EGF measures.  


Under the EGF regulation 2021-2027, the Fund supports displaced workers and self-employed people who have lost their activity.


EGF support is available for people affected by all types of unexpected major restructuring events, including the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, as well as larger economic trends like decarbonisation and automation. Member States can apply for EU funding when at least 200 workers lose their jobs within a specific reference period.


Overall, since 2007, the EGF has made available €688 million in 177 cases, offering help to almost 168,000 people in 20 Member States. EGF-supported measures add to national active labour market measures.


Through its funding for the training and education of dismissed workers, the EGF contributes to the EU’s efforts to support skills development.


The European Year of Skills puts skills centre-stage, to support people so they get the right skills for quality jobs, and to help address skills shortages in the EU.


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